Tuesday 12 December 2017

The Punt: Noonan's behind trend over bonds

Anders Borg
Anders Borg

Oh dear, it seems financial fashion is moving against us.

Michael Noonan went out of his way to praise Bank of Ireland for raising €1bn of "covered" bonds last week, saying the mortgage-backed deal highlighted the wider success of Ireland in getting back to the markets.

But it seems covered bonds are already becoming passe. That's certainly the view from Sweden where Anders Borg, the country's finance minister, wants his banks to have less to do with the markets, not more.

Borg is probably best known as the "finance minister with the ponytail," though he seems to have cut it off in recent weeks. It's not all he wants cut off.

Mr Borg wants banks in Sweden to rely less on the markets, and mortgage-backed covered bonds in particular, and more on traditional deposits to finance home loans.

"Banks also in the long-term ought to abandon this expensive financing model where they're dependent on market financing and currency-based market financing and focus more on getting funding from households through deposits," he said in an interview.

In Ireland, by contrast, we are hiking tax on savers' deposit income and showering praise on banks that issue bonds.

Right now the countries face opposite challenges. Mr Borg is trying to rein in a housing market that threatens to overheat. Mr Noonan is trying to nurse bust lenders back to health.

The Punt suspects that in the long run we could yet face being assimilated into the Borg perspective.

Irish Independent

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